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Feeling rubbish - results whinge

Discussion in 'Primary' started by milliebear, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Hi there
    Just want to vent and get some perspective please!
    I am a third year teacher and love the school I'm in and my job. I teach lower set maths (y5) and this year had the target of two sub-levels progress for two-thirds of the set.
    Last year, I had pretty poor results in maths. Most only made a sub-level according to their end of year tests. I was down about this, but it was put down to inexperience on my part and a lack of test prep. The children's performance through the year in class had been generally good, but the test didn't reflect this.
    I was determined not to have a repeat this year, so was worried to find out (from my year group partner) that the set I've inherited has a history of poor peformace due to 'bumping' of their levels a few years back. I have kept a close eye on the class since as I thought I might have some difficult explaining to do. About half of the class are extremely weak - especially their mental maths. Most performed badly on their first tests (way back in October) where several came out with lower levels than they had in Y4.
    The class have just done their formal tests, and again, most have only made a sub-level since the end of Y4. I know we still have some time until their optional SATs, but I can just see last year's scenario unfolding again and am feeling like a really rubbish teacher who is failing the kids and the school. All other areas are great - I teach upper set English and results there are good - but they are so easy to teach!
    Any thoughts/advice as to what I can do to improve things in the short time I have left? The school is aware of the situation (although nobody has mentioned it directly to me which makes me feel even worse). They are now throwing a tonne of intervention at the middle and weakest in my set, so at least that might help!
    Argh - why does this keep happening?!
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'd say this has happened because you have the lower set. If you had the higher set in maths you would have met your target easily.

    The school should have been aware of the lack of progress further down the school and put in interventions from September.

    Other than that, all you can do is request courses on teaching maths next year and revise lots now. You should know where the children's weaknesses are, teach those topics. Throw the strategy out of the window (it isn't statutory) and teach the things your class are not good at.
  3. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    As a teacher who has top set maths I would like to say that isn't always true. There is only so far the class can go and when they are already at a higher level there is less room for improvement than those lower down.
  4. We are only half way through the year! One sublevel improvement in one and a half terms should be viewed as respectable.
    The expected improvement is two full levels in a key stage. This is 6 sublevels in four years which works out as one and a half sublevels (which I know doesn't exist - but then nor do sublevels really - they are a nonsense!) per academic year. 2 sublevels aims for value added. If I were to be put on the spot now I would phrase it positively,
    I've had experience of teaching lower set year 5 for years. You end up with all the AN kids, all the low confidence kids and all the ones who don't enjoy the subject because they don't find it easy. None of this is condusive to their best learning.
    Do lots of things that boost their confidence and make them more likely to try their best. Identify the areas that would boost their levels and build all your warm ups around the little areas that may be stopping some from achieving a particular statement of attainment, but that you wouldn't have spent a lesson on. Spend little chunks of time doing test-type questions to make them more familiar to the kids, but not to over face them with them. ALso send them home as homework...many parents want their children to achieve and will put in extra time and effort if they know the homework is directly linked to their tests.
    In addition, keep your own evidence. If you have evidence in their books that they have been able to achieve success in questions similar to those in their tests, then in any meetings where you are put under the spotlight as to your childrens' results you can point the questioner in the direction of work that shows that the children COULD do it in a less stressful situation and then question the children's ability to show their best work in a test.
    Also read the test delivery info fully and fight for your kids to be given the tests in the way that the tests allow, but that allow for them to achieve their fullest. E,g, that they receive any reading help that is allowed in their maths etc.
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Eh? Are your class all working at level 10 then? If not there is plenty of room for improvement. I also have top set maths and all of them will have made 2 or more sub levels progress by the end of the year. They did the same with me last year as well. Granted SATs results for some will say 1 sub-level, but in school assessments show the true picture.

    All of my set bought the revision books offered. All those invited to L5 booster groups have taken up the offer. All do their homework. All, but one, have a good attendance record. The same is not true of the lower set by any means.
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    I agree with minnieminx.
    Just the result of earlier 'misreporting' so don't blame yourself.
  7. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    I take it this response was to me. If my class were all at L10 they would have some way found to invent a new level as they only go up to 8. My class will have made over two sub-levels progress as well. My point was that there is more room for improvement with a lower set than a higher one.
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Yes it was to you, people posted quicker than me!
    Went up to ten when I taught secondary, I've not kept up with KS4 developments over the last 12 years, so I'll bow to your knowledge.

    I maintain there is not more room for improvement in a lower set at all. None of my top set year 6 are remotely close to level 8 and so can make the same progress as a lower set. And for a great many the reason they are in top set is because they make faster progress.
  9. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    The very fact that the lower set are at a lower level means there is more room for improvement. What you are saying is that because they are the top set, they can achieve at a faster rate.

    Let's not act like top set classes in Primary schools are going to be playing around with L8. I can give teacher assessment above L5 but it would be fairly spectacular for me to give many in the class a L6 grading.
  10. Thanks so muchx for all your feedback - it means a lot to have another viewpoint - especially those who also offered some practical steps I can take.
    I know where they are weak - mental maths and applying understanding. They are OK with methods and processes, but are often inaccurate and don't check - fatal in a test. We have done every word problem and problem solving worksheet/textbook I can lay my hands on! I absolutely agree that comprehending the questions is an issue for some of them. I plan to read the questions to many more of them than I did last time as this seems to have a genuine impact on how well they understand what they are being asked to do.
    I know I should be more confident about going 'off-scheme' but our planning is independent and school designed. I am uncomfortable teaching year three/four objectives as I know this won't help them if they end up sitting the sodding Y5 test (it's the test that gets me down as it's pretty much this that the school accepts as the child's end of year level, even though they sit it in May, rather than June/July and their books reflect their ability to do similar questions when not in a test situation).
    It's all the more difficult, because they appear to have been making mostly two sub-levels progress up until hitting Y5!
  11. veritytrue

    veritytrue New commenter

    You assessed them early in the Autumn term - probably should have stamped your foot a bit then.
  12. I know. I did point out to SMT that I was concerned then about the low levels. They agreed they were worrying! I just don't want a messy conversation about previous years' (and therefore colleagues) levelling! I am a newish teacher and some of the other staff are extremely experienced.
  13. cleggy1611

    cleggy1611 New commenter

    Do a mental test every day . 30 questions. Write them yourself. Set 20 that stretches them but that they are capable of and another 10 that are at the end of year expectations for y 5. Look at pitch and expectations document. Go through each question after each test. Don't change the question structure every day. Just the numbers you use. The whole thing takes about half an hour each day but it's worth it. I do the same questions for half a term but you are running out of time so maybe just a week. Good luck.
  14. gogojonny

    gogojonny New commenter

    How much PE do they get?
    I am PE and Maths. See it all too often - kids couped up in classrooms with too much maths in the curriculum. Less is more. You can even mix maths into PE.
  15. queenlit

    queenlit New commenter

  16. Thanks again guys. I've downloaded those mental maths testsand will be doing some extra .'maths clinic' type sessions as well for the areas they struggle most with. We do mental maths on a Friday, so will do my first test then!
  17. greenpaddy

    greenpaddy New commenter

    Google leicestershire and mental maths some fab KS2 mental maths.

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